Welcome to Forest Therapy Centre PL.
In the thicket of leaves you will find a handful of scientific facts, new branches of medicine, several paths of practice, and a fascinating adventure in returning to the … roots.
How does it work?
Aerobiological factors – are microorganisms and organic products secreted by plants, saturating the forest air. Its composition is completely different from the one we breathe in the city, and it is not just about exhaust gases emitted into the atmosphere, toxic compounds of sulfur and coal or smog. We live in the middle of a biological matryoshka, connected by a network of dependencies between the macro reality over us and the microworlds living in our intestines or on the skin surface, making us healthy, completely not knowing about our existence (on the other hand we did not know anything about them for thousands of years too). We also create such relationships with various groups of species around, usually completely unconsciously. Whether we like it or not, we cannot exist without this net – we would not have survived for even five minutes without products made by other creatures – oxygen, vegetable or animal food. Nobody would decopmposite our faeces, nor fight against fungal infections. So what floats among the trees, affecting our bodies?
Bioaerosol – bacteria, fungal hyphae, fragments of algae, spores, pollen. Completely different than in the city, typical for natural environments, inseparably connected with specific tree species, biotopes. You can not find them at the supermarket. The greater the biodiversity – the better the microbiotic wealth. In breeding forests, where we meet only pines or spruces of the same age – we still can find tchem but not in such abundance. There is no dead wood and we think maybe that it is nice, because nothing ‘is rotting’, but such an environment is less optimal for a rich flora of microorganisms. Where can you find them? On leaves, needles, trunks, dead wood, in soil. From there, with air or through the intestinal tract they can enter our bodies. According to the theory of “excessive sterility” too little exposure to natural microbiota along with the abuse of antibiotics and excessive hygiene affect the development of allergies and weaker immunity.Bioaerosol bacteria, fungal hyphae, fragments of algae, spores, pollen. Completely different than in the city, typical for natural environments, inseparably connected with specific tree species, biotopes. You can not find them at the supermarket. The greater the biodiversity – the better the microbiotic wealth. In breeding forests, where we meet only pines or spruces of the same age – we still can find tchem but not in such abundance. There is no dead wood and we think maybe that it is nice, because nothing ‘is rotting’, but such an environment is less optimal for a rich flora of microorganisms. Where can you find them? On leaves, needles, trunks, dead wood, in soil. From there, with air or through the intestinal tract they can enter our bodies. According to the theory of “excessive sterility” too little exposure to natural microbiota along with the abuse of antibiotics and excessive hygiene affect the development of allergies and weaker immunity.
Mycobacterium vaccae – an important soil bacterium with which we have contact while walking in the forest, and even gardening, helps fight skin diseases resulting mainly from autoaggression (atopic dermatitis, psoriasis), as well as depression and exhaustion.
Phytoncides (from gr. phyton – plant and lat. caedo – to kill) – are organic substances secreted by various plant species for defense and communication purposes. The term was first introduced in 1928 by a Russian scholar Borys P. Tokin. Many of them are produced by trees, eg conifer α-pinen, β-pinen, limonene or mircen. In our airways, their antibacterial and antiviral potential still works, helping to fight infections through various mechanisms, eg engaging interleukines or other anti-inflammatory agents. They can also have a protective effect on nerve cells, helping the brain work.
Essential oils – like phytoncides, mostly terpenes, also have anti-inflammatory and bactericidal properties. They affect not only the reference of immunity, but also the feeling of relaxation, supporting regeneration after stress, increasing the subjective feeling of comfort, relaxation, and revitalization and contentment.
Air humidity is the content of water vapor in a unit of air volume at a certain temperature and pressure. The forest one is much more stable than the urban one, protecting the respiratory tract and hindering the entry of pathogens through the epithelium lining the mucous membranes. Humidity in cities often ranges from extreme drought to a climate reminiscent of dense jungle air after a heavy downpour. Water, having nowhere to soak, intensively evaporates, which also leads to feelings of breathlessness and discomfort and is not physiological for us. Urban air usually dries mucous membranes, facilitating colds, inhalation inhalants and skin diseases. In the forest, our outer layers naturally moisturize and revive.
Other important factors include air ionization, which in the forests has higher, healthier negative values, sunshine (richer in the spectrum of blue and green light, beneficial to health, inducing a state of relaxation) and less exposure to wind, noise and fluctuations of environmental factors.
The nearby flowing water, additionally enhancing the relaxing qualities of the forest, sends information to our brain: “In the neighborhood you will satisfy your thirst and find food, the trees will provide you with shelter. You are safe, you can rest. Relax.
Types of forest therapy:
“Forest bathing” – Japanese modern term meaning immersion into the atmosphere of the forest with all senses. There are numerous scientific studies on the work of the brain, immunity and the response of the nervous system and psychological reactions under the influence of this type of therapy. In the certain Asian countries shinrin yoku is the branch of academic medicine with its own health centers, walking trails and medical care focused around the subject. It involves careful, silent, slow walking or standing in the forest atmosphere, using all the senses, with the right attitude and duration of the experience.
It’s a more general term, found rather in therapeutic programs, rarely in scientific literature. It means taking advantage of being surrounded by trees. Practice include walking, physical contact with the trees by touching the bark, relaxing in the forest. It means generally resting among trees.
They are additional techniques that enable deepening the individual relationship with nature, influencing the potentialization of subjective benefits resulting from forest therapy. They increase the experience of mindfulness, awareness and relationship with the surrounding nature, deepen relaxation and facilitate the observation of internal processes. Used additionally in in-depth forest environmental exposure programs.
Diaphragmatic breathing, prolonged exhalation or careful breathing are well-known exercises used in various psychotherapeutic techniques an relaxation classes. They reduce tension and physiological stress, allow for better oxygenation, muscle relaxation, mindfulness, support concentration and falling asleep. Used additionally in in-depth forest environmental exposure programs.
The rules of forest bathing (shinrin-yoku):
In order to practice the shinrin yoku alone, you need a forest area (the forest must be at least 5 m high, the nursery falls off) or a park with a tree crown cover of at least 30% and 20 meters wide trees area. How to practice? The walk is calm, at a slow pace, you can stop. It does not matter the distance, physical effort, exercise – the time and the depth of immersion are important – we draw as many senses as we can. We observe, not looking for anything special. We listen carefully. We experience smell, and if the environment is favorable, we can sometimes feel the taste of forest air on the tongue. We touch the bark of trees, mulches, moss. If it is possible and safe, it is worth walking barefoot. Turning off the phone. We do not take electronic devices with us. We do not talk. If we practice in a group, we agree that we will only speak in really justified situations. We can drink water. We try not to bring with us to the forest money poblems, tasks from work, installments for the car or family stresses. This is our time. We do not set a hiking goal that we must achieve. It’s about mindfulness and presence. A walk is effective if it lasts at least 20 minutes. To stay in shape, you should take it at least once a week. If we come out once a month- it’s also fine, we will definitely benefit. If thoughts appear in your mind – do not give up, but let them go and continue your journey. It is worth walking in safe places, especially if you are not used to wild areas that initially arouse fear. You can arrange a few people. Do not forget about comfortable clothing and prevention from insects.
PRECAUTIONS, LEGAL RESTRICTIONS:
We are not responsible for any accidents that may result from trips in the forest, allergies, stings, mosquito bites, ticks or diseases related to them. Please ensure proper prophylaxis, clothing, repellents, careful examination of the body after a walk, consideration of previous vaccinations against tick-borne encephalitis. You undertake all activities related to the workshops in the forest at your own risk.
Forest therapy affects many aspects of human health. The world’s scientific literature in indexed journals provides us with the knowledge of how shinrin yoku can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, influence the profile of the parasympathetic nervous system, psychological state, sugar level or NK cell activity and other aspects of the human immune system.